Chicago, IL

Can you really get a fine for letting your car warm up in Illinois this winter?

Jennifer Geer

Unless someone is sitting in the driver's seat, or you've got a remote start, then yes, it is illegal to leave your car running and unattended

There are some odd laws in Illinois. For example, you can get pulled over for having an air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror. Although, an Illinois lawmaker is working to eliminate that one.

Another law people might be unaware of is that Illinois is one of the states where it is illegal to let your car idle when you're not in it unless you've started it remotely.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, the law states:

"Except for a law enforcement officer or an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle performing his or her official duties, no person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any perceptible grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway. An unattended motor vehicle shall not include an unattended locked motor vehicle with the engine running after being started by a remote starter system."

Can you let your car warm up if you have a remote start?

Yes, it is legal to start your car remotely. The law is aimed at "unattended motor vehicles." Unattended vehicles are defined as a vehicle running with the key in the ignition.

Police warn about leaving vehicles unattended

According to a tweet from the Chicago Police Department in January of this year, vehicles left running have been subject to theft. It's also not only illegal in Illinois, but a municipal violation in the city of Chicago.

Do you need to warm your car up on cold days before driving?

This used to be true of older cars. But cars today don't need much "warming up" before you drive them.

According to AAA, you should only let your car idle as long as it takes to buckle up your seatbelt. They say it's a myth that you need to let it run a few minutes in cold weather before driving. Although they do admit, you may need to let it run in the winter while you clear snow and ice from your windows.

The bottom line

If you leave your keys in the ignition and go back inside while your car warms up, you could be asking for trouble. Whether it's car theft or a fine from the police

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL
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